Dennis came back to visit his foster parents across the street, and he and grandson David built a marble maze together. I loved the clacking sound as the marbles rolled down the chutes. Children’s toys might be more fun for young adults than youngsters.
Daughter Kate and the young men fed the last of the carrots to the horses that live behind us. The best entertainment is sometimes free.
After Kate went back to New Jersey, Nathaniel and I found a terrapin on the road as we walked. The little guy must have been frightened silly when the giant picked him off the road and put him in the grass. For days after, we looked along that stretch, hoping there would not be a splat on the road.
The day his mother left, Nathaniel spent the morning working on the waterfall that he and John built last year. It had begun to lose water rather drastically, and Nate found where water was escaping. I asked for a victory pose.
I offered Nathaniel a Moon Pie, knowing he needed the Southern experience of eating one. He already knew I was disappointed that the chocolate had no taste. The chef devised an enhancement. He split it, added a marshmallow, drizzled chocolate sauce on it, and sprinkled it with espresso chocolate chips. The snack was so messy that we almost needed a shower after eating it. There was finally enough chocolate taste for me.
What would you call a meeting of relatives who have never met each other? It wouldn’t be a reunion. I guess I would just label it “tremendous fun”. As John’s first cousin Peter put it, “These people were just names to me. My mother kept me abreast of family news, but I hadn’t ever met them.”
Peter had come from Illinois to North Carolina for a meeting of dulcimer enthusiasts. He has written fairly extensively about the instrument and Swedish hymnody. You can read one blog post here. After the event, he came to spend one night with us, seeing our home here for the first time. That one night turned into two, much to the delight of us and the younger set.
Our niece and nephew from upstate New York swung down this way on their vacation. Our son $ wanted to reconnect with Chrissie and Christopher, Chrissie being his first cousin who grew up next door. Those three always enjoyed each other. So there we had three from the older set and three from the next generation. None of the young’uns had ever met Peter. I figured out the one person they all had in common was John’s mother. Mom was Peter’s aunt, and grandmother to Chrissie and $.
What fun it was to see the connections begin to form! Peter and the (almost middle aged) youngsters had an instant bond with music. They were speaking a common language when they talked of singers and groups. The young set went for a hike as Peter packed to leave. He said he hadn’t known what to expect from these unknown relatives, but he found himself relaxing and enjoying them tremendously.
I wish I could remember all the things we shared and the laughter that rang out from our screened porch. It’s certain the neighbors were aware that we were having a marvelous time together. Dennis, across the street, brought us cake he had made himself and had a chance to meet our fun relatives.
I do remember the last story Peter told. His mother’s sisters (I think I have the right group) were visiting a church where the song was “Bringing in the Sheaves.” They sang with gusto, and an older man near them asked “What words are they singing?”
The song says, “Bringing in the sheaves, bringing in the sheaves, we shall come rejoicing, bringing in the sheaves.”
What did those girls sing? “Swinging in the trees, swinging in the trees, we shall come rejoicing swinging in the trees.”
I shared with him the words my dad sang for “Brighten the corner where you are.” As a boy, his version of the gospel song was, “Fight in the corner where you are.”
All too soon Peter was on his way, taking one of the extra barbecue sandwiches from our meal on Sunday. Pulled pork is one of the things both he and I missed from our childhoods in Tennessee. He came from one end of the state, and I came from the other. You’d never know we shared an upbringing in the same state. He sounds mid-Western, and I have a modified mid-South accent.
We saw the people we planned to see on this trip, and now we are heading home. John’s Uncle Howard was in great spirits, but we don’t think he remembered we were coming. It took him a while to know who we were and get us sorted out in his mind. He is 97 years old, so he can be forgiven for taking his time. He still has a clear memory of the bombing of Pearl Harbor where he had a ringside seat. There are only two other Pearl Harbor survivors in Memphis.
I rather liked that photo because I knew when I took it that I was visible in the mirror.
I was embarrassed that I nodded off several times. We brought in ribs and barbecue sandwiches from Howard’s favorite BBQ place, and we were all as full as ticks. In addition, we were facing the sun streaming through floor to ceiling windows. The difference between squinting and sleeping was about 1/8 inch. I apologized to John later for not being able to stay awake. He said, “That’s OK. We all nodded off from time to time.”
We stopped in Jackson to see Mary and Joe. Joe and I grew up in the same town, but Mary is the one I keep in touch with. I asked how she heard about Union University where they met, since she lived 5 or 6 hours away. It seems a good friend from her town went there a year ahead of her. She voluntarily promised her parents she would come back home; she would not fall in love and marry anyone far away.
She started college, and sometime later her dad telephoned her and asked how her love life was going. She said, “There is nothing to worry about. I’ve dated this guy a couple of times, but we don’t have the same values.”
As soon as they hung up, her dad said to her mom, “We’re going to Jackson this weekend. Mary has met the man she’s going to marry, and I want to check him out.”
I think Mary said they have been married 48 years.
While I was enjoying Mary, John was talking to Joe. I doubt the two men had ever spent more than a few minutes together. John learned a lot about Joe’s dad in the war and about Joe himself. Nathaniel said he was tired and didn’t plan to talk. He was quiet, but he became animated when Mary chatted with him.
It was wonderful to reconnect with these dear people. We will drive hard tomorrow so that John will be home for cardiac rehab on Monday.